Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Closer to Home - 'White' Cheese Bread

I know, I know. The latest trends in bread are taking us AWAY from white bread. Lately it seems, everywhere you look, there is another article explaining patiently (or sometimes less than) why it's no good for you. Or at least not that good for you. Nowadays it's all about whole grains and bread made without wheat altogether. As if, after maybe 10K years of making bread from wheat, it all of a sudden is not good for you. Now, I'll grant you, the flour we get today, especially the industrialized bleached all-purpose flour, is mostly starch. That, of course, is the reason bread is what it is. The gluten in the white flour traps the air given off by the yeast and makes it light and airy and sweet and, well, just delicious. Which is why I always, but always, when baking with white flour use UN-bleached and fortified flour. And I add things. Like dried fruit. Or nuts and seeds. Or some dairy product and/or and egg.

In Israel we have great dairy products. Cottage cheese to die for. Lots of excellent hard cheeses and a great tasting selection of soft white cheeses. We spread them on toast, or bake them into pies, or pastries, or just spoon them over salads. It is just this kind of cheese that I used in this bread replacing some of the liquid. You can use any soft white spreadable cheese for this although you may have to slightly adjust the water/flour ratio. This bread will keep for several days, and makes great toast. Oh, and it fills your whole house with the most heavenly aroma while it bakes!

Here's What You'll Need: (for 2 loaves)
2 cups (about 500 g) soft white cheese
3 Tbs. sugar
1 egg, beaten*
3/4 cup warm water
1 Tbs. dry yeast
1/2 tsp baking soda
6 cups (about 4 1/4 cups) AP flour
1 1/4 Tbs salt

* I only use large eggs.

Here's What You'll Need to Do:
1. Place the cheese, sugar, egg and water in a large bowl and mix thoroughly. (You can use your mixer on low speed for a minute or so.

2. In another bowl, mix the baking soda with the yeast and 2 cups of the flour. Then add this to the liquid mixture slowly while it continues to mix on slow speed. At this point you can add the salt. Slowly add the rest of the flour while continuing to mix until the dough 'cleans the bowl'.

3. Leave the ball of dough in the bowl. Sprinkle a little flour over the top, cover with plastic wrap, and place in the refrigerator to rise until doubled, about 3-4 hours.

until it looks like this...

4. Remove the dough to a lightly floured surface, knead for about 1 minute. You will notice that after a slow rise in the refrigerator the dough is less sticky, and more flexible and easier to knead!

5. Divide the dough into 2 equal-ish pieces. At this point you can shape them as loaves and place the dough in lightly oiled loaf pans. Or, you can shape them as 'batards' (like thick torpedoes) and let them rise free-form on parchment paper or a peel covered with corn meal. (What I did.) Either way, let the dough rest and rise. In loaf pans until it rises above the sides of the pan. On a peel, until almost doubled. Either way, about 45 minutes.

I slashed the dough just before baking. If you do this, slash using a serrated knife (or razor blade) about 1/4 in (3 mm) deep, just before placing in the oven. 

6. About 20 minutes before baking time, pre-heat the oven to 400 F (200 C). Bake (with steam for a hard crust, without steam for a soft crust) for about 30 minutes or until they are a beautiful deep brown and smell incredible.

and toasted with butter...

7. Cool on a rack. Bitayavon (Hebrew for Bon Appetit).


  1. Wonderful! We have never had this bread! Thanks so much!

    1. You're welcome! This bread is moist and keeps really well. Enjoy!

  2. מעניין מאוד. נראה לי שזה מזכיר יותר חלה מאשר לחם? בגלל הביצה והגבינה
    האם תפקיד הגבינה לשמור על לחות (כמו למשל כשאופים עם תפוח אדמה)?

    1. זו בדיוק התפקיד של הגבינה. בנוסף, הגבינה נותנת טיפה חמיצות בטעם

  3. Would fresh farmer's cheese be suitable for this...that I can obtain easily at a Kosher market here. Otherwise, I'm limited to the Latin/Hispanic queso fresco types, which I imagine would work pretty well.

    Regardless, sounds delicious, and definitely want to try it out...sounds like something my Mom would really enjoy!

    Laura Fischer

    1. The soft white cheese we have here is spreadable and with more liquid. I bet a nice thick Greek yogurt would make a good substitution. You might have to adjust the liquid a little but it should make wonderful bread.

  4. Thank you, for your quick response, and suggestion...I will definitely give that a try...I ALWAYS have the Greek yogurt on hand. Good stuff!

    Laura :0))